The marine layer lingering ‘till noon. The Torrey pine-scented sea breeze enveloping the hill. Aren’t we lucky to live in Del Mar?
About four thousand live in our village and welcome over two million visitors annually. Old homes, new homes, and hotels eclectically join to form the ensemble we call Del Mar. From the well-protected native Torrey pines to the lunar-looking sandstone hills and the ocean; without this spectacular natural beauty, Del Mar would be just another city.
But then how long can this beauty still be taken for granted? The defining features of our town are its two beaches, the two river estuaries, and the Pacific Ocean. They are all under threat. The United Nations Environmental Programme (2021; bit.ly/UN-Env-Programme) estimates that without necessary intervention, the amount of new plastic pollution entering aquatic ecosystems is expected to reach 23 to 37 million tons per year, by 2040, adding to its current estimated total weight of 75 to 199 million tons. The impact is widespread. Aside from causing the direct death of sea animals who get tangled, starve or die from eating plastic trash, plastic pollution also diminishes the natural capabilities of carbon cycling, by entering the tissues of marine organisms and contaminating the food chain, where humans end up ingesting polluted foods and suffer associated illnesses (Landrigan et al., 2020: bit.ly/agh-landrigan).
Preserving the uniqueness of our bountiful environment, and equally our health, is a priority for many of us. In 2022, 66 volunteers picked up 211 pounds of trash at Powerhouse Beach Park and Dog Beach, during 24 recorded beach cleanups with the Surfrider Foundation. Del Mar Village Association organized a beach cleanup and a downtown cleanup, the latter helped remove 178 pounds of trash that would have ended up in our oceans.
Del Mar counts many sustainability heroes, volunteers who protect the environment by working on ordinances and building electrification, as an example, who plant trees and feed butterflies, and who make sure that the splendid gift of nature will be enjoyed by many more to come. Discussing sustainability, defined as maintaining a harmonious human-nature co-existence to support today’s and tomorrow’s generations, the Environmental Protection Agency declares that “everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.” Resources are plentiful around us, giving us the option to get involved. San Diego Gleaners, FreeCycle, Del Mar Go Green website, Climate Action Campaign, and Feeding San Diego are just a few to look into.
Ed note: Full references are available online.